Kejriwal’s “expose” was not “pretty big” as he promised in his tweet earlier in the day as much of what he talked about has already been reported in the media.
Addressing a packed press conference, Kejriwal said the production sharing agreement the NDA government had signed with RIL was a “sweet deal” which its successor UPA “implemented faithfully.”
RIL rejected the charges saying there was no truth in them. “The statements made by IAC in the press conference today are devoid of any truth or substance whatsoever and are denied,” the company said in a statement.
“The deep water exploration project in the KG-D6 basin has deployed the best technical resources and has been recognized by the oil and gas industry as one of the very best in its class. This project has added great economic value to the country and by all accounts is a project of which India can be justly proud,” RIL said.
“Irresponsible allegations made by IAC at the behest of vested interests without basic understanding of the complexities of a project of this nature do not merit a response.”
Kejriwal’s contended that the 2000 contract was “meant to favour RIL from the beginning” as he argued that the investment multiple (IM) — the ratio of net cash income to exploration and development costs — benefited RIL. He said higher capital expenditure implied more profits for the company.
“Reliance has a huge incentive to keep IM below 1.5 by increasing expenditure artificially,” IAC said.
Kejriwal said that even the CAG had pointed out that there was strong evidence to show RIL was gold-plating its capital expenditure and touched upon the revision in gas pricing. IAC demanded that the KG Basin contract be cancelled and the government immediately “put in place adequate systems to get full production from the same location at the cheapest prices for the country”.
“RIL signed a contract with NTPC in 2004 to supply gas for its power plants at $2.34 per mmbtu for 17 years. In three years, it went back on its word and demanded that the price be hiked to $4.2. A responsible government should have dragged them to court and cancelled their contract. But the EgoM headed by the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee revised the gas price giving an undue benefit of Rs 8,000 crores to RIL,” he alleged.
RIL, he claimed, now wants the price to be increased to $14.2 per mmbtu. “Under a 2009 agreement with the government, they are supposed to sell gas at $4.2 per mmbtu up to March 2014. Jaipal Reddy turned down their demand and he has been shunted out,” Kejriwal alleged. He claimed that Mani Shankar Aiyar was also removed as petroleum minister in 2006 when he refused to allow RIL to increase its capital expenditure in the project to $8.8 billion from $2.39 billion.
IAC circulated what it said was a note the petroleum ministry under Reddy had prepared for the EgoM, turning down RIL’s demand. Kejriwal alleged RIL has “substantially reduced production” at KG Basin to “pressurise” and “blackmail” the government and was indulging in “hoarding”. He claimed Reddy wanted to penalise the company for “willful reduction” of production of gas.
IAC also targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying he was “sympathetic” to RIL and had requested the petroleum ministry to seek the opinion of the attorney general on whether gas prices could be increased midway as demanded by RIL “Why did the PM not show similar concern when NTPC was forced to accept higher gas price from RIL...why is the PM not pulling up RIL for not producing gas as per their commitment...why is the PM showing so much interest when RIL interests are at stake?” he asked.